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Testing the Impact of Your Resume

After your resume is complete, see if it makes the initial impression or impact you want. Give your resume to two or three objective colleagues who you can trust. Ideally, you want colleagues from the business world who hire as part of their job. Ask them to take ten to fifteen seconds to look at your resume. What do they remember?

If the “impact” points of your resume are not what you want them to remember, you may need to revise it. On the other hand, if your review group remembers what you want to communicate with your resume, it’s ready for use! Have your “quality control” group do the same for your other job-search documents or online profiles.

QR Codes

You can add a QR code to your resume (a QR code is a static-like barcode found on many contemporary advertisements). They can add a unique visual appearance to your resume and be a differentiator. They have faded in popularity, but can be effectively used in some industries (e.g., marketing, advertising, etc.) Generally speaking, QR codes tend to appear on a resume either in the upper right hand corner of the front page or bottom of the second page, but there is no placement rule. Use discretion and make sure the code does not distract from your resume’s overall appearance.

What the Pros Say:

What is your opinion about adding a QR code on a resume?

I think they are a bit of a fad. Personally, I have never put one on a resume. I could maybe see a case to put one on for someone in marketing because they want to demonstrate their knowledge of digital marketing. I will say that if you do include one, the site you lead the reader to better be impressive.

Dealing with Employment Gaps on a Resume

Employment gaps on a resume can create anxiety. Fortunately, most employers understand the difficulties of the job market, the negative employment dynamics of a particular industry, or have experienced a gap in employment themselves.

Judgments regarding employment gaps have eased. According to a study conducted by CareerBuilder, 85 percent of hiring executives and human resource professionals are more understanding of employment gaps than they once were. While there is an understanding that bad things can happen to good people, there are limits. If your gap is reasonably short and you have been productive in some way using or enhancing your skills, the gap is generally overlooked. But the longer the gap, the more negatively an employer views that gap.

Studies indicate that once your employment gap exceeds six months, your job search can become precipitously more difficult. The unstated reasoning is if you have been unemployed for over six months nobody wants to hire you (especially when you have been actively looking for a job).

So, how can you get around this potential judgment and frightening statistic? Take comfort—there are ways:

• On your resume, list your dates of employment in years only, not month and year. It is honest and can cover your gap. However, if asked about actual dates of employment, be forthright with your answer.

• Use a Showcase resume. Do what you can to emphasize your strongest selling points up front on your resume. Hopefully, this will focus the employer on your skills, knowledge, and achievements and not on the employment gap.

• Become a consultant. You obviously have ability, so try to secure some paid opportunities to advise and consult with companies in your areas of expertise. The key is to show that you have remained active and are using your skills.

• Volunteer to offer your services for a worthy cause or association. It may not be complicated work, but it is using your skills in some capacity. Examples: As an accountant, do the bookkeeping for a nonprofit which you are passionate about. As a sales professional, volunteer to do fund-raising.

• Continue your education. This does not necessarily mean getting an MBA (although, clearly, that would be advantageous), but begin working toward a substantive industry designation.

• Be very cautious of the word “sabbatical” on a resume. It is an unusual word to the commercial private business sector. It raises the suspicion of long-term unemployment.

• Depending upon the circumstances, briefly address the employment gap in your cover letter. It could be that you chose not to look for a job, but you must have a very good reason. This information would come under the “Additional Information” section. (See Cover Letters and Other Written Communications.) Keep it brief.

• As a last resort, use the Functional resume format.

• Above all, never sacrifice your integrity.

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Recommendations and the Resume

There is a variety of additional information that can be included on a resume, such as: affiliations/associations, memberships, appointments (appointed positions), non-career related awards and honors, languages, and licenses, among others. How do you treat this information on a resume?

I present this information briefly. It’s part of the personal brand, and you never know when you’ll run into a hiring manager who was also an Eagle Scout or sits on the board of your nonprofit. A note on nonprofits, volunteerism is becoming increasingly important to put on a resume as companies are more and more concerned with corporate citizenship.

James Moore

It depends on what it is and how relevant it is to where my client is going in their career. Most often I regulate these types of things to a Volunteerism or Of Note section at the end of a resume. However, there are certain awards that are more impressive and may need to be featured earlier in the resume. I had a client once who was a top 36 under 36, a volunteer of the year, and was accepted into a special mentor program. While some of these were not career related, showing them all together up front made more sense.

James Moore

Use of Recommendations on a Resume

When properly used, recommendations, testimonials, and endorsements appearing on a resume can be impactful. Due to a resume’s limited space, a statement of recommendation must be short, relevant, and direct. Consider putting recommendations in quotes, italics (for effect), or both. Testimonials and endorsements from others are more powerful than what you say about yourself. Some recommendations can double as accomplishments (as in the first example).

For the recommendation to be effective, the person providing it must be identified by name and title. Get permission from this individual prior to including their recommendation on your resume.

Examples:

“Increased average profit on special orders by 17 percent, resulting in thousands of dollars in new revenue.”

Letter of Appreciation from Elizabeth Jones, VP of Accounting

“Bonnie is a valued member of our team. Her expertise in cost-accounting strategies positively impacted our bottom line.”

Elizabeth Jones, VP of Accounting

You can also close a resume with an impactful recommendation:

“Katy was clearly the most client-focused account manager we had on our team!”

Bob Johnson, Vice President of Account Management

What the Pros Say:

What is your opinion about including recommendations on a resume?

Short quips from positive performance reviews, letters of recommendation or appreciation serve brilliantly on resumes as testimonials and are quite successful if used strategically. A testimonial should speak to job tasks of the future job and to the candidate’s past accomplishments that would add value to the future company. OR, the testimonial could be from a powerful player in the industry, whose voice holds power (the mayor, a senator, a senior VP).

James Moore

I like to include brief quotes. You can let others say laudatory things about you that would have a false or boastful ring if you stated them in the first person. Brief is the keyword, though. Most recommendations are long-winded. Quote selectively from them so they can be consumed and understood quickly.

James Moore

Information NOT to be Included on a Resume

• It is naturally assumed that you will furnish references if asked.

• Never give reasons why you’ve left any of your previous jobs.

• Never list your career’s salary progression on a resume.

• Avoid putting personal or legally protected characteristics on your resume. This would include age, marital status, length of marriage, ages of children, race, state of health, social security number, height, weight, and so forth.

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How important is it to quantify accomplishments on a resume?

Very! In today’s times, the readers of resumes want to see what differentiates one candidate from another. Job tasks and responsibilities will not vary much. However, the key accomplishments and achievements allow the job seeker to stand out more.

James Moore

Absolutely imperative! Without quantified achievements a resume is no more than a list of jobs and cannot position a candidate to compete in a tight job market.

James Moore

Education

Provide educational background starting with your most advanced degree or major, and the university or college name. Abbreviations are fine: BS, BA, MS, MBA, and PhD. Use the same fonts for school and company names. If you do not have a full degree, include those details by mentioning what degree you pursued and the amount of years or semesters attended (or percentage completed, if available). Include your education at the bottom unless you feel there are grounds to move it up or if it is customary in your industry to have it appear early on a resume.

What the Pros Say:

Do you have any unique techniques in writing the Education section?

I will ensure either the degree or the name of the institution stands out—depending on which one is more powerful and/or relevant to the job search. For instance, a degree from Harvard stands out regardless of the focus of study, as does a master’s in information systems for someone gunning for a CIO role.

James Moore

When writing the Education section, the focus can be either on the degree, the major area of study, or the college/university—whichever piece would best support the job seeker’s target. If the Education piece is the job seeker’s main qualification—such as a recent college graduate or someone who is changing careers and has earned new credentials—the Education section should be listed under the Summary section rather than at the end of the resume.

James Moore

Other Credentials

The following sections can add depth to your resume. You may not need every section below—just those representing strong qualifications for you.

1. Affiliations/Associations

Affiliations and associations can be impactful on a resume by indicating your involvement in your industry and the community. Include groups of which you are a member. An Affiliations section may look like this:

American Marketing Association

Society for Human Resource Management

Health Care Administrators Association

American Red Cross

2. Appointments

Appointments are a list of offices you held (generally in the last five years) and demonstrate involvement in both professional and civic organizations. Include only professional or significant charitable organizations. An Appointments section may look like this:

Chairperson, American Management Association, 20XX–20XX

Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International, 20XX–20XX

Regional Director—Rapid Response, American Red Cross, 20XX–20XX

3. Awards/Honors

This section reveals achievements, awards, and honors not connected to your career. Include accolades from college activities, professional service organizations, volunteer work, and so on. Examples include:

Team Captain, Central Minnesota University Softball Team

Up and Comer Award, Rotary International

Volunteer of the Year, American Red Cross

4. Languages

The world is getting smaller. Being fluent or proficient in a foreign language can be a significant differentiator, depending on the kind of positions you are pursuing. A Language section generally appears this way:

Fluent in Portuguese

Proficient in Italian

5. Licenses

List all licenses relevant or required in your industry or the job description for your desired position. Don’t list a real estate license if you aren’t seeking a position in that industry.

6. Professional Training and Designations

Continuing education in your chosen field is important. It’s a clear indication to future employers that you stay current and are improving your skills and knowledge. List noteworthy workshops, seminars, and other continuing education you have completed in the last five years. List only those seminars that pertain to the type of position you are looking for. A typical professional training section will look like this:

Dale Carnegie Corporate Strategy—20XX

Managing for Excellence, sponsored by the American Management Association—20XX

Selling!, a five-day program sponsored by Kaufman and Gentry Sales Training—20XX

If you’ve attended more than five courses, just note the types along with who sponsored them, such as:

Completed sales, management, and computer skills trainings sponsored by the American Management Association—20XX

7. Technical

Understanding technology is becoming indispensable in today’s world. Include your proficiencies with technology here. A Technical section generally appears this way:

C++, Cisco UCS, Commvault, VMWare, Windows Servers, Microsoft Active Directory, WordPerfect, PowerPoint, Microsoft Office, Microsoft

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Setting Up Accomplishments On Your Resume

An accomplishment is a detailed account of success regarding the duties and responsibilities of your job. Make sure your specific successes are crystal clear to the hiring executive on your resume.

Accomplishments are vitally important to your job search. It has been said that qualifications often get you an interview, but accomplishments and rapport are what get you the job. Identify and quantify your accomplishments, and use bullet points for easy reading.

Accomplishments:

• Clearly demonstrate your ability to improve a company’s efficiency or bottom line.

• Emphasize positive work outcomes with dates, percentages, numbers, and so on.

• Display why an organization will find you effective.

• Translate your value by showing your performance in similar circumstances.

Accomplishments focus on quantities, improvements, and results from an organization’s perspective. How did you make or save the employer money? Or how did your actions lead to a beneficial result? Highlight accomplishments with $, %, or # as applicable to enhance credibility.

Accomplishments can be a separate Showcase section on your resume. Or, especially for chronological resumes, they can be a subsection to each position you have held.

What Accomplishments Get Employers’ Attention?

Remember that employers generally hire with two main goals: to make or save money. The more obvious your accomplishments appear to achieve either goal, the more powerful the accomplishment is. The following list of accomplishments can help spark ideas as you contemplate your own (refer back to Understanding the Employer’s Mindset):

1. Increased revenues

2. Awards, rankings against your peers, or production numbers

3. Process improvement that saves money or time, increases efficiency, or makes work easier

4. Improved company image, branding

5. Opened new distribution channels for sales

6. Product improvements, product development

7. Expanded business/sales through existing accounts

8. Anything that enhances competitiveness

9. Improved client retention

10. Improved company culture, morale, employee retention

The following is a list of positions. Under each are ideas from which accomplishment statements can be created. Although a particular position type may not apply to you, adopt this mindset when considering your accomplishments.

ACCOUNTING

• Design and implementation of cost controls and quantifiable results

• Optimization of business output through software or other technology

• Application of tax laws

ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT

• Client retention

• Contribution to sales growth (upselling)

• Key account responsibilities

ENGINEERING

• Financial outcomes from new designs or products

• Patents awarded or pending

• Projects managed and financial results

EXECUTIVE-LEVEL MANAGEMENT

• Measurable increases in revenues, profits, EBITDA, and ROI

• Leadership regarding strategic planning, long-term business development

Mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures

HEALTH CARE

• Increase in quality of patient care, with detailed results

• Increased impact of outreach services, with their results

• Attainment and maintenance of stringent regulatory requirements

• Reduction in re-admittance

HUMAN RESOURCES

• Success in recruiting personnel

• Employee retention

• Improvements in employee benefits and cost reduction

MANUFACTURING

• Increases in production and worker productivity

• Improvements in safety

• Reductions in operating costs and overhead expenses

RETAIL

• Increases in gross revenues, profit margins, and market impact

• Improvements in inventory turnover, speed to market

• Reductions in inventory, operating, and personnel costs

SALES

• Sales honors, awards, percentages over quota, rankings against peers

• Increases in revenues, profits, and market share

• Sold new national accounts

• Expansion into previously undeveloped territories and markets

TECHNOLOGY

• Development of new technologies and their financial results

• Detailed results of implementation (e.g., revenue increases, cost reductions)

• Patents awarded

• Timely systems conversion, integration

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